City manager could be named Jan. 23


The Sealy City Council interviewed three city manager finalists last week and staff members provided tours of the community to the hopefuls.

Mayor Janice Whitehead said Friday she could not confirm that an offer has been extended to one of the finalists. Even if such an offer has been made, the negotiation process could take several days, and it’s not likely that the council will publicly announce the sole finalist until it is posted to do so at its Jan. 23 meeting. About $121,000 is budgeted for the city manager position.

Stephen Ashley of Katy most recently served as city manager for Spring Valley Village near Houston. He said his experience of more than 20 years in Texas local government and as an economic development professional and certified public manager would help him guide the local community.

“Sealy is kind of on the move,” he said. “The growth is really moving out this way. I didn’t know Sealy had such large industrial areas. There’s plenty of room for retail ... If you don’t grow, you’re dying.”

Ashley has worked with communities to create economic development plans and said the population of Mansfield grew from 17,000 to 50,000 under his leadership.

“I’m a team-type person,” he said. “I don’t always think my ideas are the best. I like to have weekly staff meetings where we go over projects … Teamwork is best.”

Ashley said he preferred not to be interviewed on camera, so a link to his visit with The Sealy News is not available.

Debi Lee, manager for Ruidoso, N.M., said she loves her community but wanted to relocate to the area in order to be closer to her family. Her daughter is a single mom who teaches special education for Katy ISD. Academics and athletics are important to their family, and “Texas has both,” she said.

“Sealy has that small-town atmosphere that we like,” Lee added. “It’s also very historic; it’s got a lot of history behind it.”

Lee said her 30 years of experience in local government, which includes grant writing and cleaning up financial issues.

“I have problem-solving skills,” she said. “I have the ability to make things happen, and I can persevere. I can see it through to the very end … I like helping people. I’m very ethical, very transparent. We manage our money very, very well.”

An unedited version of the interview is available on The Sealy News Facebook page.

Lloyd Merrell, who served for 26 years at the helm of Madisonville, Ky., now lives in The Woodlands, and his daughter is a teacher with Klein ISD. He said he likes that Sealy residents take a lot of pride in their community.

“The people here have done a lot of things right,” he said. “It’s a clean, well-kept community and there are things that need to be done to move Sealy forward. We are going to be inundated with growth. It’s coming from the Katy area and moving this way at a rapid pace.”

Economic development is the catalyst that “makes a community go,” Merrell added.

“You have to take care of what you have,” he said. “The companies that already are in Sealy have to know that we appreciate them.”

That can be done through an industry appreciation program, he explained, which helps with retaining companies and creating new jobs.

An unedited version of the interview is available on The Sealy News Facebook page.

Warren Escovy, the city’s planning and community development director, has been serving since Larry Kuciemba’s contract was terminated in late May. Escovy did not apply for the permanent post.

The Sealy City Council selected Strategic Government Resources (SGR) to conduct and manage the nationwide search that resulted in an outstanding pool of candidates. The City received 33 applications from individuals in nine states, with 20 of the applicants having city manager or assistant city manager experience.

Candidate vetting included a comprehensive questionnaire, online interviews, a psychometric assessment, a thorough media search and a rigorous background investigation.

“Council is being very cautious and very prudent,” Mayor Janice Whitehead said last week. “We want to make sure we bring in the right person.”


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment